The Memphis Grizzlies waived power forward Michael Beasley (above) yesterday — a former No. 2 overall pick from Kansas State who played for the Miami Heat (twice), the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Phoenix Suns. Beasley, shortly thereafter, decided to play ball in China, for the Shanghai Sharks.
Beasley joins the unique ranks of former NBA ballers who have taken their talents to Asia. Stephon Marbury and Tracy McGrady have both become something like demigods in China after sputtering out of the league, and Ron “Panda Friend” Artest will be embracing the foreign leagues in 2014-15 as well. Andray Blatche and Jordan Crawford will also be balling in China this year, and so will the young Emmanuel Mudiay, a projected top five pick next June who’d rather make some money abroad than sign up for an NCAA squad for one season.
There are unique opportunities for those who flee to China. Marbury has recently been putting on a bizarre, befuddling play about his life, “I Am Marbury,” in which he portrays himself and reportedly closes the production with a loaded soliloquy including lines like “I am Marbury. You are Marbury. We are all connected.”
And, oh, look. There’s also a statue of Marbury overseas:
Artest has perhaps raised the bar for basketball weirdness by recently unveiling these shoes with stuffed pandas on top of them, about which he says “The shoe has a panda on it. I'll be throwing it to a friend in the crowd. The person who catches it will be the Panda's Friend of the day.”
Here’s hoping Beasley can offer some of the same head-scratching stuff from across the ocean. In America, his reputation has been as a strong talent but a lazy worker who’s indiscreet about his recreational relationship with marijuana — a habit that has had him suspended and fined multiple times. Maybe this banal misbehavior can be made into the stuff of opera through the looking glass of the orient, where NBA players go to reimagine themselves these days.
— John Wilmes